Assignments often feel disjointed and haphazard, much like the metal panels of Tuletornen.


This class is designed to be flexible, meeting your needs based on your interest in digital writing and your immediate professional aspirations. Your major project throughout the semester will be creating your own website, designed to suit your personal goals for an online presence. At the same time, we’ll study theories of writing and rhetoric in digital spaces, with writing assignments throughout the semester. The descriptions below let you know what to expect for those smaller assignments.

Personal Website

For this class, you will create a website (similar to the one you’re reading now) for some topic, purpose, or issue of importance to you. Perhaps you want to create a portfolio of your creative writing or a website to advertise your skillsets that make you employable. Or maybe you want to start a group, a movement, or a brand of your own.

This project will involve a lot of work because you’re building an entire website, from the ground up, by yourself. But because you have full control over the design, content, and approach, this project will also be rewarding—you’ll end the semester with a part of the Internet that’s uniquely yours.

Blog Posts (×14)

Each week, you will create a blog post in response to the regular texts you read for homework. These weekly blog posts serve as conversation starters, sharing your thinking with the class. Additionally, these posts give you experience creating content for the Web, with special attention to basic SEO standards.

Because your work will be publicly visible, you’ll need to think carefully about audience. Though you’ll write these posts primarily for an audience of your colleagues, anyone on the Internet can access your work. We’ll talk about who is and is not likely to see your ideas, and that awareness will help you tailor your writing. Furthermore, two tools built-in to our class website will help you practice good writing style for online publication: Search-Engine Optimization scores and Pre-Publish Checklists.

Search Engine Optimization

This class blog uses WordPress, which powers roughly one-third of all sites on the Web. It’s a particularly powerful system for hosting blogs about anything, up to and including those dreadful recipe websites we’ve all seen. Successful blogs use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to improve the likelihood that they’ll appear near the top of search results when people look for the content on the blog.

Our class blog is no different—we want to be relevant to the discussion of digital writing, so we’re going to keep SEO at the forefront of our minds when responding to homework. The Yoast SEO plugin checks each post for readability and SEO, and you can only publish a post when it earns a “good” score for both from that plugin.

Pre-Publish Checklists

Furthermore, each post must meet basic content requirements within WordPress. For example, each post must have a featured image, and all images must include alt text for accessibility. At first, these requirements will be a frustration. Eventually, though, you’ll get in the habit of writing the way search engines expect.

All told, these are the requirements each blog post must meet:

  • Title must be ≥ 10 characters long
  • Content must be ≥ 250 words
  • Post must be assigned to 1 or 2 categories
  • Post must have 2–5 tags
  • The post’s excerpt must be 120–155 characters long
  • The text must link to at least one external page (such as the assigned reading material)
  • All links must be valid (no broken/dead links)
  • All images must include alt text for accessibility
  • Each post must include a featured image
  • Posts must earn “good” ratings on both readability and SEO from Yoast

Textbook Chapter

At the end of the semester, you will write a chapter for Kean’s student-authored Writing in Digital Spaces textbook. Your chapter will address any specific concept discussed in class. (Think of the weekly readings, not the four-week themes.) You will create a 1,250–1,500-word text designed to help students in future sections of ENG 3080 learn the relevant material and apply it to the world around them.

Your chapter will include section headings as needed, one review question per section to help readers check their understanding, 4–5 key vocabulary terms for the book’s glossary, and 3–5 discussion questions at the end of the chapter to encourage readers to think about the chapter topics beyond what was mentioned in the book. This student-generated textbook will be published online during finals week.

Course Audit

The last of the semester’s assignments reviews your work and argues for your success in the class. If you’ve had a class with Dr. Friend before, this assignment will be familiar. In short, you will write a letter to your instructor explaining how you know you’ve achieved each of the student learning outcomes listed in the course syllabus.

Your letter to the instructor serves to audit the content of the course by identifying what does and does not directly apply to the goals stated at the outset of the semester. You will explain how the assignments you completed helped you achieve the results expected in the syllabus.